Friday, November 30, 2012

Spider Story Update

The post dated September 11, 2012  (it seemed like years ago, for as long as it's been since I posted) and A Couple of Half-baked Thoughts and a Spider Story was about the end result of some sort of insect bite I received in early August. I am now scarred for life. I am not kidding. Not pretty.

I ended up seeing the doctor about a week later simply because some lymph nodes on my head and neck on the same side as the spider bite were swollen. After having had another lymphectomy, I didn't want to take any chances. The doctor immediately diagnosed the bites as spider bites and prescribed antibiotics, steroids, and topical cortizone.

I have since done HOURS AND HOURS of Internet research on spider bites and have learned that spider bites are extremely difficult to diagnose unless you catch the spider in the act and most doctor-diagnosed spider bite are usually something else.

Almost as soon as I began using the topical cortizone, the skin at the site of the bites became necrotic. It wasn't until weeks later, too late to do anything about it actually, that I remembered that one of my professor colleagues is a spider researcher.

I showed him the bites and he said in no uncertain terms, "Not a spider bite."

I asked him if it would do any good to bring him a spider specimen. That man got positively giddy. That is why he is known as "Spiderman" by this students, I guess.

We've seen numerous spiders, unfortunately in BonnieBlue's room, and it seemed logical that if I was bitten by a spider it was one of the many we've been seeing. I killed two before I remembered I was supposed to get an undamaged specimen.

The fated day came, and according to Spiderman's directions, we caught one in a small jar, filled it with isopropyl alcohol, and put him in the freezer until I could take him in.

Spiderman identified the little hairy intruder thusly: definitely a male sheet-web spider (Family Agelenidae), probably of the species Agelenopsis pennsylvanica.  This is a spider common to Ohio (and Pennsylvania, I would assume), and he indicated that there was little or no chance that it gave me the awful scar I now sport. Spiderman also offered that what happened to me looked just like what happens as a result of staph infection.

So, tens of more hours on the Internet, and I was convinced. I either contracted the staph at the doctor's office, or from the topical cortizone, or carried it home with me from the hospital when I had a mastectomy. Another friend told me that staph is commonly found in horse barns; that is consistent with an insect bite from the garden as we fertilize with horse manure.

So, mystery solved, at least in my head. I am styling my hair so that the forehead scar is hidden and the nose bridge scars are fading. I may be beautiful again someday.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Barbie Musketeer for Halloween 2012

Seemed like a good idea to combine these two posts, given the topics.

First Halloween.

How cute is this?!

I was inspired by these.

Google really is the end-all-be-all for creating Halloween costumes. I found this picture when I Googled "Barbie Musketeer tutorial," which took me to Brown Paper Packages, a blog by a woman who made these great Barbie Musketeer costumes for her kids a couple of  years ago and posted a tutorial.

I gave myself permission to NOT be supermom and instead improvise as needed. I cannot actually sew very well, so the first things to go were the skirt and shirt. Target's clearance rack provided a $2.40 skirt that I added a $2.00 ruffle to (for a petticoat; didn't turn out so well and BonnieBlue was visibly and verbally disappointed in it). She already had the shirt. This woman (a.k.a. SuperCostumeMakerMom) made the hats, corsets, and boots. I improvised on all three: 1) The corset I made had no rouching on the back but I'm planning to add that; I didn't have elastic thread and didn't have time to go out and get some; 2) I bought a pink cowboy hat at Target for $8 and a fake feather at Michael's for $3; and 3) The boots were duct-tape over boots she never wears.

The whole point of this post (except, of course, to show off my child) is to share the idea she came up with for making boots. She made them like this:

1. Have child put on an old pair of ballet-type Mary Janes (they'll never be able to be worn again, fyi)
2. Pull on a pair of old knee socks over them.
3. Duct-tape from shoe to top of sock.
4. Cut off down the center using a pair of surgical scissors.

Somewhere in there she also added the boot cuff, but again, I improvised because I didn't have time. I was sewing right up until it was time to leave for the church Halloween party.

But man-oh-man, I thought this was brilliant! What a great way to make any kind of costume shoe!

Unfortunately, BonnieBlue was would have nothing to do with me duct-taping her lower let. So here's what I did:

I took a pair of boots her older cousin gave her that she won't wear and stuffed a pair of my winter socks in the shoe part, one in the toe and one in the heel. Then I placed a water bottle in the shaft of the boot.

Then I started duct-taping, starting at the toe and working my way up.

Using both sturdy all-purpose scissors and fabric scissors, I cut them down the middle. I added duct tape to the open ends that I had just cut, and then added another piece on each side so that the tape extended out beyond the boot, giving me enough room to add some eyelets. 

Added some gold trim bought by the yard at JoAnns for a couple of bucks.

Again, she wasn't too thrilled with the boots, but several of the little girls at the Halloween party were ga-ga over them and asked where she got them. Unfortunately for me, no glowing-child-response of "My mom made them!"  Oh well.

All in all, about a 20 dollar costume, that she didn't hate too badly.

As Halloween approached she did say over and over again that she wanted to be Jewel (the female bird in Rio). I agonized over not making the costume that she really wanted, but I couldn't  figure out a way to do it that would be...well, doable.

I'm not all that bummed that she wasn't as excited as I had hoped she would. I'm pretty sure she got the message that I wanted her to: We don't buy pre-packaged, crappy costumes. We buy a few accessories and make our own crappy costumes!